Hey, Dad...Can I have Linux back?

My oldest son, creator of flame wars, finally discovered that you can only surf to the nether regions of the Internet so many times before even Vista business succumbs to malware. His computer an unusable mass of pop-ups, spewing traffic over our network actually asked me tonight to reinstall Linux for him.

My oldest son, creator of flame wars, finally discovered that you can only surf to the nether regions of the Internet so many times before even Vista business succumbs to malware. His computer an unusable mass of pop-ups, spewing traffic over our network actually asked me tonight to reinstall Linux for him.

He still wants a Vista virtual machine since Spore is a pretty fine game and his Zune probably won't play nice with Linux. However, for everyday use, he's done with Vista. Not only does it lack the "amusing desktop effects" (which his mother hates, by the way, on her new Linux desktop), but even running Clamwin and Windows Defender, he still managed to infect it with a variety of junk, rendering it useless when he had a term paper to write.

Obviously, we have other computers in the house that he could use, but there's nothing like sitting in your room with your own tunes and your own computer, high-speed Internet pumping wirelessly into your laptop (especially when all of your references are on the computer for a term paper due the next day). This is one thing that Linux can usually do well. While it might need some extra tweaking here and there, a good distro on decent hardware is usually fairly bulletproof in terms of malware.

No matter what the average teenager can throw at it (P2P, questionable social networking sites, and anything else that his mom doesn't like thinking about), most Linux installs are going to keep chugging. The malware simply isn't out there for Linux, whether or not the systems are inherently more secure.

So just to punish him for not coming to me sooner with the performance problems he'd been noticing (waiting instead for a critical mass of malware that put us beyond the point of system recovery), I'm giving him Ubuntu 8.10 beta. It's not really much punishment, though. In typical Canonical style, the late beta seems pretty darned stable. We'll see how it goes for daily use. At the moment I'm running about 45 minutes of updates and then need to see how VirtualBox is fairing on the beta and under Sun's guidance.

This is, of course one of the more important things to remember about Linux in Ed Tech (aside from the fact that it's free): kids are mean to computers and do things they probably shouldn't on the Internet. Linux (and to a lesser extent, OS X) is simply more resistant to abuse and for that reason alone is at least worth our consideration.

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